The Special Olympics Connecticut Unified Sports® Fitness Club brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities and provides opportunities for regular fitness activity to enhance fitness and inspire friendships among participants.
The Club follows the Unified Sports® Recreational Model focusing on participation rather than competition. Each Club participant receives an individual tracking device which is used to monitor individual and Club progress. The Club provides the platform for individuals to challenge themselves and earn individual and Club rewards.
The Club begins with walking as its main physical activity. The Club incorporates a wide variety of other physical activities into weekly or bi-weekly sessions as well as offers Pin and Universal Walks at destinations throughout Connecticut.
We currently have active members of The Club in: Ansonia, Colchester, Enfield, Groton, Manchester, Mansfield, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, Naugatuck, New Haven, Oxford, Quinebaug Valley (Danielson), Torrington, Wethersfield, Windham, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.
“I want to extend my thanks to everyone at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that participated in hosting the Unified Sports® Fitness Club Universal Walk.
It was a fantastic event for the athletes and partners alike. The activity fitness stations were well organized, appropriate for all abilities, and fun! The walk around your beautiful campus was enjoyable, the cadets courteous, friendly, and great role models for our athletes.”
- Linda Perham, Parent and Unified Partner, SARAH Unified Sports® Fitness Club
"Alex always wants to compare "moves" (from our USFC Movbands) when he is done with a game and gets such a kick out of getting more moves than me.
Thanks to the Unified basketball program, Alex has had the opportunity to play a game he loves. He wears his jersey to school and invites everyone to come watch the game. This has given him such confidence and spirit - it is amazing. To hear the guys on the high school team cheer them on brings tears to my eyes and (puts) a huge smile on Alex's face. It is wonderful."
- Sandy English, Parent and Unified Partner with the Special Olympics Windsor Locks Unified Sports Fitness Club
REGISTER YOUR CLUB AND ENJOY THE BENEFITS
• Regular Physical Activity
• Access to Lessons for Life
• Nutrition and Fitness lessons for your Club
• Click here for Lessons for Life
• Universal Walks - Hosted by SOCT to welcome Clubs from across the state for exercise, fitness activities, learning opportunities, reward presentations and just plain fun!
Click here for Miles and Rewards
• Pin Walks and Fitness Destinations Across Connecticut
Click here for locations
Request your official Unified Sports® Fitness Club Toolkit.
Join Us and Get Moving Today!
Testimonials/Share your story
Jake Segla and Craig Taylor of Special Olympics Naugatuck have been working out together every week since 2011 with their friend/mentor, Tony Vitale, at the local YMCA.
In 2014, Special Olympics Naugatuck started the Naugatuck Unified Fitness Club and began walking three miles every Saturday. Together these guys have changed their diet and have lost more than 30 pounds!
- Trudy Segla, Naugatuck
"Since starting the fitness club and receiving his (Stephen Emblidge) band, he walks on the group walks but also walks independently. He comes home from work and changes into his warm up suit and gets his iPod on so he can walk to his music. We sync his monitor almost daily so that he can see his results, He is excited to see his placement and wants to stay ahead of his coaches. He is moving around the house more as well."
- Cecilia Emblidge, Groton
My son Ben was born with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. We were told that he would never walk or talk. He is now 25 years, walks with forearm crutches and talks non-stop.
Ben is a member of the Windsor Locks Sports Stars Special Olympics Team. Ben and I began participating in the Unified Fitness Group this past fall. The program provides so many benefits to both Ben and I, First and foremost, it gives us a sense of social belonging to a peer group. Logging into the computer and seeing the names of our team members and how many moves or steps they have provides motivation for Ben and I to try and walk more during the day.
We have nightly conversations about our movement and steps, making estimates and comparisons. Ben is able to talk about his walking goals and have appropriate conversations throughout his day. Ben struggles with social skills, before the fitness group- Ben frequently didn't have a topic to talk about that was acceptable, now each and every day he has numbers, goals, and places he walks to talk about. Ben even asks me to "park far away, I want steps" when we are out running errands. The physical exercise is important for both Ben and I, seeing our personal numbers going up keeps us excited about wearing our moveband!
- Ben Petersen and Hope Richard, Windsor Locks Sport Stars
We, haven't had a chance to get a hike in this month, but our team practices snowshoeing and cross country skiing on Friday nights - and as you may have noticed, there hasn't been a lot of snow. So we've been turning it into some fun game of walking/running and game play.
We start inside doing warm-ups and stretches and move it out to the cold. We've been playing "soccer" with a huge yoga ball (all abilities play) and playing a team building game we learned at one of the coaches training classes.
It has created an interest in the fitness club, and each week we are adding new people to the club.
Thank you for doing what you do, you've given us more incentive to get out there moving, and my team has little friendly "competitions" going on to see who moves more in a week! (Our coaches are even more "competitive," and it's getting them more involved in the practices.) At the end of our practices, some of them stand around drinking hot chocolate talking about how many "moves" they got! It's really great to see!
Larry Doherty, Oxford Special Olympics
Here is a picture of Elizabeth Buckheit of the Milford Operations Mainstream Unified Sports® Fitness Club after a club walk in July 2015. She was awarded her 1000 mile t-shirt that day.
Elizabeth had not participated with Special Olympics Connecticut in the past but had played soccer and participated in equestrian activities with other organizations. Some time ago she informed her mother that she was retired and was not interested in other activities. Ed Reily formed the Unified Sports® Fitness Club for the Milford Operation Mainstream and recruited Elizabeth and her mother Linda. Linda thought "What a great idea."
Elizabeth loves meeting and walking with the group every week. Hence, the 1000 mile t-shirt. You can not keep up with her during the walks unless you run! Elizabeth is a great success story!
"This program is so fun! I walked 100 miles and it was awesome. My favorite part of the Unified Sports® Fitness program is the walking because anybody can do it. I like to walk everywhere: from my house to the bus stop, and my house to the greenhouse where I work. In fact, I love it so much that I am wearing my Unified Sports® Fitness Club shirt right now. Every body should join the club. It gives me incentive to move, and gives me a goal. It was a good idea, and I'll continue to wear my shirt!"
- Hakim, Manchester Supportive Living
We are athletes! We push ourselves and each other to test our boundaries, keep moving and doing our best. Our goals may be different but we all want to maintain a level of wellness in our life. It's important to do it with support and in an atmosphere that is positive and rewarding. Thank you to all my athletes and partners that do our best. We are athletes, hear us roar!
- Special Olympics Wethersfield
To view their workout document, click here.
Our Family joined the Unified Sports Fitness Club shortly after our sons completed their 18-21 program. Now that our sons are in adult services, they had no opportunity for physical fitness on a regular basis. We feel that it is important for all of us to participate in regular exercise in order to stay healthy.
This program has helped our family to be active while providing social opportunities with other club members. The special events and weekly walks have been great in terms of keeping us all moving! To us exercise is part of staying healthy and the Unified Sports program has helped us to achieve our goal with the members of our club.
Cristina Ayala has been a dedicated team member with our Unified Sports Fitness Club since February 2015. She is active at home as well, even exercising her dog Duke.
Cristina meets weekly with other Fitness Club members to train. She encourages other athletes to finish their exercises. Cristina will take the time to show a fellow fitness member the correct move if they are having trouble.
When out in the community with friends, she practices healthy eating, knowing that it has aided her in reaching her goals. Cristina's changes to her lifestyle contributed to her continued success. Her performance in sports, specifically Unified basketball, has excelled. Cristina's weight loss also motivates her friends to keep striving for a healthier, active lifestyle. Great job, Cristina!" - Natalie Morrison, SOCT Wethersfield Local Coordinator
Click here to share YOUR story and upload your club photos.
Questions & Answers
Q: What is the Unified Sports® Fitness Club?
A: The Special Olympics Connecticut (SOCT) Unified Sports® Fitness Club brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities on local clubs which offer regular physical activity.
Q: What type of physical activity is offered?
A: The Club incorporates walking as its main physical activity. The Club offers ongoing walks and can incorporate a wide variety of other physical activities into its weekly or bi-weekly sessions.
Q: Do Athletes and Partners need to be registered with SOCT?
A: Yes, all members of your club must complete the necessary paperwork in order to be a registered Athlete or Partner with SOCT Go to GET INVOLVED tab and click on Become an Athlete and Become a Unified Sports® Partner for registration process.
Q: What are the age requirements for Fitness Club participants?
A: Athletes and Unified partners must be at least 8 years of age to participate and there is no upper age limit. Fitness Clubs provide a group opportunity for activity and social inclusion. Fitness is for everyone – no matter what age!
Q: What is the difference between Pin Walks and Universal Walks?
A: Pin Walks are available year round. Clubs can complete these walks during their weekly or bi-weekly sessions and pick up a souvenir pin at a designated location. Universal Walks are hosted by Special Olympics Connecticut on a specific date and designated location. Clubs register for Universal Walks where the event incorporates a variety of other activities in addition to walking. Universal Walks take place 2-4 times a year
Q: What are Fitness Destinations?
A: Fitness Destinations are Connecticut locations that clubs can go to for indoor fitness activity during the winter months (or any time of year). Approved Fitness Destinations may offer a souvenir pin for registered Unified Sports® Fitness Club members after participating in their first complimentary
visit. Clubs may then choose to return to the fitness destination
at their own expense for future visits.
Q: What benefits are offered to members?
A: The SOCT Unified Sports® Fitness Club offers its members opportunities to improve their health and wellness. The Club offers walks, as well as nutrition and wellness educational resources for its members. Members receive a MOVband wrist-worn activity monitor and opportunities to earn rewards for miles achieved. Souvenir pins can be earned for completing Ongoing Walks and the best benefit of all – improved health and lifelong memories.
Q: What exactly is a MOVband wrist-worn activity monitor?
A: Each member of a club will receive their own MOVband wrist-worn activity monitor. The MOVband records and tracks your daily "moves." These moves help the participant understand the amount of physical activity they record on a daily basis. Not only do you now have a brand new watch, but you also have a tool to help you stay motivated and moving!
Q: Does the Unified Sports® Fitness Club incorporate any competition opportunities for its members?
A: The SOCT Unified Sports® Fitness Club follows the recreational model of participation. This means that the Club is participation-based, and attempts to motivate its participants to define and reach their own personal goals. The Club offers a variety of individual and Club rewards for miles achieved.
Q: Are Head Coaches required to participate in training?
A: All Head Coaches are required to complete the free Unified Sports® Coaches Course which can be found at www.nfhslearn.com.
Q: Can families participate on a Unified Sports® Fitness Club?
A: Absolutely. Immediate and extended family members can participate in a Club and form friendships with other families and members of your community.
For more information, contact Don Conklin, Coordinator, Unified Sports® Fitness Club, at [email protected] or call (203) 230-1201, ext. 262.